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Leica M9 Sensor Repair Time- weeks, not months

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
3,849
It has only been two weeks since I packed up my Leica M9 and sent to Leica, New Jersey. I detected the first signs of cover-glass corrosion about 3 weeks ago. Today the repairman notified me that the M9 was on its way back to me. The invoice confirms that Leica replaced the sensor, did a full-CLA on the camera, and provides a 1-year warranty on the camera for a flat-rate that was less than anticipated. My M Monochrom had sensor corrosion earlier on, the M9 is almost 8 years old. I don't mind the cost of repair, it is about 25% of the true cost of buying a new KAF-18500 through DigiKey without the labor cost. I plan on keeping this camera for as long as possible.

Anyway- if anyone else has an M9 in need of repair, I suggest that now is a good time. I've read elsewhere that replacement costs may be going up. Leica New Jersey must have a supply of KAF-18500s. OnSemi now only sells them to Leica. They were ~$4000 each through Digikey. Too funny. It cost $40,000 for the detectors in my first Digital Imager. That one had 32 pixels, was an Infrared "Scanning Sensor". Prices have dropped since 1982 and pixel density has increased. Plus you don't have to write all your own image processing software to see an image.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
3,849
The M9 with new sensor arrived at the house yesterday. I'm just back from a trip, will be checking it out this weekend. Leica New Jersey turned the camera around in under 2 weeks. I'm happy. The M Monochrom took several months to get a new sensor, that was almost 18 months ago. This is likely to be the last CCD based camera that I get.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
3,849
This is just like getting a new Leica M9. New sensor, new electronics board, and perfectly calibrated. Christmas came early. Based on reading other people's experience, I was expecting a 4month turnaround on the work, not 2 weeks.

If you have an M9 that is suffering from the S8612 corrosion problem- I suggest getting it in for repair soon. I've read the repair price is going up, but have not seen anything directly on it. As the sensor is manufactured by OnSemi and is a high-quality CCD, I believe the price charged to Leica will most likely go up as time goes on. These are Scientific Grade devices, about the last application for CCD technology. High-end sensors for scientific applications are a hybrid CCD detector array "grafted" onto a CMOS chip, the latter doing on-chip A/D and processing. Expensive- CCD has lower noise and higher collection efficiency, CMOS offers on-chip conversion and processing which reduces system level noise. Unlikely to make it into a Leica- so I'll settle for the KAF-18500 with BG-55 cover glass. Should last for a long time.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
3,849
Just in case anyone wants to know how expensive CCD arrays are these days:

KAF-16801-AAA-DP-B1 ON Semiconductor | Sensors, Transducers | DigiKey

$22,000 for a 16MPixel CCD. It's about manufacturing complexity, and quantity of a run. I suspect the number of detectors that Leica needs for replacing corroded sensors is going down, hence per-unit cost will go up. When the KAF-18500 was in full production, the cost to buy 1 CCD from digi-key was $4,000. No complaints from me for the cost to update my M9.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
3,849
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I took the "newly refurbished" Leica M9 up to the Marine Museum at Quantico with the 7Artisans 50/1.1. I'll be able to compare shots with the older sensor as lighting is fairly constant. Everything is spot-on, the 50mm F1.1 used wide-open is a good test. The camera with new sensor and electronics board (they are integrated) have been precisely calibrated where all matches up exactly as before.
 

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